Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU)

Workers at Esso’s Longford gas plant in Victoria have been picketing for more than 470 days after the company sacked 230 workers and demanded they reapply for their jobs under a new agreement that would slash pay and conditions.

As the government’s criminal case against Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) officials John Setka and Shaun Reardon ended in embarrassing collapse, unions called for the repeal of draconian secondary boycott laws.

Sympathy strikes are one of the most common forms of secondary boycott. They involve a union taking industrial action to force a company to cease trading with another company until the targeted company agrees to industrial demands. The law against secondary boycotts thus interferes with the right of workers to campaign collectively.

The longest running industrial dispute in Western Australia’s coalmining history ended on February 14 when, after 180 days of protected industrial action, maintenance workers at Griffin Coal returned to work. Workers voted on February 9 to accept a new enterprise agreement that gave them back their family friendly rosters, a liveable wage and entitlements.

About 90 workers at envelope manufacturer Australian Paper’s Preston plant stopped work on January 16 and formed a picket in front of the factory after nine months of negotiations failed to secure a new enterprise agreement.

Workers at the Streets ice-cream factory in Minto are planning a boycott of Streets products — including the iconic Paddle Pop — if Unilever continues its efforts in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to end their enterprise agreement.

Kone lift workers have won a 16% pay rise after a six-week campaign.

About 200 Kone employees voted to accept in principle the much-improved company offer.

The breakthrough came after ETU and AMWU members took five four-day and one six-day stoppages over six weeks.

Workers will soon receive a 5% increase in pay backdated to March, with instalments of 4.5%, 4.5% and 2% to follow annually.

More than 70 workers at Visy’s Dandenong plant voted on August 7 to maintain a peaceful picket and not return to work after an Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) delegate was sacked on August 4 for organising “illegal industrial action”.

The workers, all members of the AMWU, had become increasingly angered by a series of provocative actions taken by Visy management in the weeks before the delegate was sacked.

In the early hours of last December 12, 55 Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) workers returned to work to the sound of bagpipes and applause.

Five hundred unionists and community members turned out to congratulate the workers on their successful 180-day campaign.

Today, there are 55 workers still camping outside Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) in Melbourne, 16 weeks after they were sacked when their employer lost the maintenance contract for the brewery.

Most of these workers were directly employed by CUB until their jobs were outsourced in 2009. There was a hard fought campaign to keep the positions permanent but, in the end, the workers were forced to settle for contracts with no loss of income or conditions. Supposedly it was a “win/win”.

In a big development in industrial dispute involving Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) and the 55 maintenance workers it has sacked in Melbourne, the contractor at the centre of the dispute, Programmed Skilled, has broken its contract with the brewery.

The 55 workers were sacked in June — then offered their jobs back with a 65% pay cut. The company brought in unskilled scab labour, with the sacked workers, backed by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), picketing the Abbotsford factory.

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